Lakshadweep draft proposals: Venkaiah, Kerala Governor urged to intervene

In a letter, they urged the constitutional offices to seek a review of the proposals and consultation with local bodies.

Former administrator of Lakshadweep Wajahat Habibullah, former NCW chairperson Mohini Giri and former Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed have sought intervention of Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan in halting implementation of the controversial proposals initiated in Lakshadweep.

In a letter, they urged the constitutional offices to seek a review of the proposals and consultation with local bodies.

“The changes being proposed are stated to be for the ‘welfare of the human community’, which means a thorough consultative process by the said ‘human community’. Programmes being planned need a vision that takes into consideration a consultative approach rather than be imposed from the top,” they wrote.

Pointing out that the social fabric in Lakshadweep is “built on an ecosystem based economy linked to fishing and anchored in the cooperation, tolerance, acceptance and mutual dependence which exists there,” they said in the letter to Naidu: “…We look up to you to set things right in the coral islands where each citizen has equal rights to options of livelihood.”

A social media campaign was launched against the proposed regulations initiatives of Lakshadweep’s new Administrator, Praful Khoda Patel. The campaign has been intensified with political leaders in Kerala, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, seeking the Centre’s immediate intervention into the matter and recall the administrator.

The letter also pointed out that the recent policy changes, “proposed unilaterally and arbitrarily”, have given no consideration to matters such as land use, land ownership, ocean resource utilisation and livelihood practices of the community.

“To add insult to injury, the culture and traditions of the people who live there have been violated by intervention into their food ethos (beef ban, opening liquor shops, etc). Their traditional methods of decision-making of democratic decentralisation are poised to be torn apart by these changes,” the letter states.

The writers of the letter — the three of them have had involvement with the island’s administration in the past — stated that what Lakshadweep needs is access to safe and secure healthcare, education, just governance, food security and livelihood options linked with their ecosystem including the rich resource of tuna fishery in surrounding waters.

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